Intermedia Art

New Media, Sound and Performance

X-Mission Episodes Five - Seven  2009 - 2010

Ursula Biemann

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Already at the time

Although refugee camps are temporarily created in times of crisis, they tend to be consolidating and self-perpetuating. In the sixty years of their existence, Palestinian refugee tent cities, spread across the Arab world, have long since turned into precarious cinder block settlements. In the Palestinian case, the refugee camp must be apprehended as a spatial device of containment that deprives people of their mobility with the goal to condemn them to a localised existence, symbolically and materially asserted by the actual, extreme reduction of ground allocated to them. Yet at the same time, the refugee camp is a product of supra-national forms of organisation and administration (United Nation High Commissioner of Refugees, NGOs) and, in that sense, connected systemically to a historically specific global terrain. To render this condition visible, I opted for the form of a cultural report that includes local analysis by an array of experts (lawyer, architect, anthropologist, journalist, historian) while drawing on data and video material from YouTube, suggesting a use of media that connects the camp with the global distribution of power.

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Uncle Hassan lives in Toledo, Ohio

Given the vital importance of this connectivity, the video attempts to place the Palestinian refugee in the context of a global diaspora and reflects on post-national models of belonging which have emerged through the networked matrix of this trans-local community.

X-Mission is conceived as intensely discursive, being an experiment in a tentative form of theoretical articulation and critique of the multiple discourses constituting the camp. It delivers something of a geological cross-section of the narrative layers that articulate this highly compressed space: juridical, philosophical, mythological, post-national and relating to urban planning. In this anthology of remarkable expertise offered by various scholars, what takes shape for once is not the metaphorical waiting room for a disabled history to pick up momentum again but a veritable factory of ideas. In what could almost be described as an archaeological endeavour, video is used as a cognitive tool to unearth the deeper strata of things.

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Someone who used to have many acres of land

Interspersed with multiple-layer video montage deriving from both downloaded and self-recorded sources, the interviews spin an intricate web of discursive interrelations.

View Episodes One to Four

Ursula Biemann

X-Mission is a piece of video research on the extra-territorial status of Palestinian camps and the refugees who inhabit them.

Episodes One - Four

1. Outlaws and paradigm shifter / 2. There is a clause in the statue / 3. They hear things collapsing / 4. Normally such a story would pass unnoticed